The REA Group, a global online real estate advertising company based in Melbourne, Australia, has expanded its footprint in the United Kingdom with the acquisition of Hotproperty.co.uk.

The REA Group’s 50 percent owned United Kingdom subsidiary, Propertyfinder Holdings Ltd, has acquired Sherlock Publications Ltd for

The REA Group, a global online real estate advertising company based in Melbourne, Australia, has expanded its footprint in the United Kingdom with the acquisition of Hotproperty.co.uk.

The REA Group’s 50 percent owned United Kingdom subsidiary, Propertyfinder Holdings Ltd, has acquired Sherlock Publications Ltd for £5.6 million ($11.1 million USD), the company announced this week.

Sherlock Publications owns and operates the UK’s sixth largest property Web site, hotproperty.co.uk. The site is used by 1,300 paying real estate agencies to advertise 170,000 listings. In addition, Sherlock Publications publishes the Hotproperty, Renting and Overseas, print publications with a combined monthly circulation of 120,000.

The acquisition of the UK-based listings Web site marks the REA Group’s sixth since February of 2007. In the past few years, the company has grown its legs in several countries and territories across the globe, including Australia, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, New Zealand, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. (See Inman News story.)

Company officials say they are actively looking for new online real estate acquisitions in other parts of the world, including the United States.

"We are turning up the heat in the U.K. property portal market," said Simon Baker, CEO and Managing Director of the REA Group.

Baker described the recent U.K. acquisition as a win for estate agents, consumers and landlords as the deal is expected to add more exposure to their property listings at the same price.

The company said it plans to operate the propertyfinder.com and hotproperty.co.uk Web sites in parallel, with estate agencies having their listings appear on both sites for the subscription price of just one of the sites.

More than 5,500 unique real estate agencies advertised about 400,000 listings on the propertyfinder.com and hotproperty.co.uk sites at the time of purchase, according to internal statistics noted by The REA Group.

Propertyfinder.com attracts more than 2 million unique monthly visitors, while hotproperty.co.uk attracts about 400,000 unique visitors, according to comScore Media Metrix statistics from January, 2008.

The Hotproperty, Renting and Overseas print publications will be brought under the Propertyfinder Publications business unit that is responsible for the publication of the London Property News magazines, which reach more than 250,000 readers each month, the company said.

"The deal is a win for the REA Group and will help cement Propertyfinder’s position as the second largest player in the UK portal market," Baker said. "The acquisition of hotproperty.co.uk adds significant numbers of new agents and consumers to the propertyfinder.com business at a very good price."

The REA Group has operations in 12 countries, publishes 18 Web sites and eight print publications.

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